You can be skipping in Hyde Park, inspired by, and feeling like, Floyd Mayweather. But within a few short minutes, the mind can switch in a wonderful way.
Doing just this, the handle of my rope broke. I asked the lady at the nearby food stand if she had a screwdriver and she handed me a substitute knife with an apology. As I looked at the screw head and the wannabe screwdriver an older lady asked me how many I had done. I felt her warmth and willingness to engage. I answered her humbly with a number lower than I really had. Okay, I lied and I have no idea why. She then said something witty, I smiled and carried on. I fixed the rope and continued but that short experience had me thinking about the beautiful nature of people, especially early in the morning.
In my book, Read This On The Train, I encourage the reader to stay open to whoever might be sitting opposite them on public transport, to stay engaged with each other as human beings, not as separate units, competing against each other like boxers.
This lady, after the excess of the winter festivities, brought that principle back to me. I was inspired by her to nurture my true self, as I had been inspired by Mayweather to nurture my physical self.
I finished skipping and walked home via Queensway but I decided to see what would happen if I simply acknowledged my fellow human beings, each and every one, by saying ‘good morning’ all the way home, 1.1 miles.
At first I could see that because people didn’t expect it, they decided it had never happened and continued like I wasn’t there, although I could see their heads slightly turning with curiosity as I became history to them.
To turn around would probably present too much risk and possibility for them to deal with, in their otherwise autopilot morning rush hour routine. After about 20 people, I realised that it didn’t matter whether they were present enough to face the Good Morning Dandy and the possibility of it becoming a hostage / gunpoint situation with helicopters, swat teams and me ‘downed’. No, it wasn’t relevant at all. What mattered was that they heard me and came to grips with their own fears; l was just the messenger of a recognition of human dignity, from one soul to another.
After that realisation, I relaxed and my voice became more audible, confident yet not intrusive, for I am a man of sensitivity, and never aggressive. After 150 ‘Good Morning’s, and yes this is accurate, not like the white lie told to the kind lady in Hyde Park, I learned about the ego, stuff like: people feel more comfortable when they are not alone, so I received grateful replies from couples and, as I relaxed further, also from lone commuters, and I saw that this curious behaviour of saying ‘Good Morning’ to fellow earthlings has become alien to most people in the city.
Those 150 people whose day might have been changed by my foreign language can thank the warm hearted lady in Hyde Park on that chilly morning, and they can thank this Floyd for bringing some May weather to the English January.
Angel Lewis with Tom Charles
Breaking down our self-imposed barriers is the subject of my book Read This On The Train, buy it here, now. It’s not as cheap as a ‘Good Morning’, but it’s still a bargain.